Moxibustion is the process whereby moxa - a dried herb, usually the species mugwort - is burned, either directly on the skin, or just above the skin, over specific acupuncture points relative to a condition.
When lit, moxa burns slowly and provides a penetrating heat that can enter the channels, or meridians to influence qi and blood flow.
A very common form of indirect moxibustion uses moxa sticks, which resemble large cigars or incense sticks. These are lit and held about an inch above the point or area to be treated. They are usually rotated or turned quickly toward, and then away from the skin.
The choice of when, where, and if moxibustion is to be used is a matter of clinical judgement for the practitioner, in consultation with the patient.
Care must be exercised to ensure that the burning moxa does not come in direct contact with the skin or burning and blistering will occur.
Ancient teachings advise that the formation of a blister is essential for healing to take place, but modern practitioners find that moxa can be highly effective without causing blistering on the patient.